Does an orange peel a day keep cats away?

There’s an increasing conflict in my garden between trying to start the vegetable growing season and cats upending earth to bury their business. Or, indeed, just leaving it lying on the surface.

It could be foxes, but I think I have seen the worst feline offenders. I might have even caught them in the act of digging, before shooing them away. There was a nice big hole left in my main pot of carrots, which are only in their embryonic stages. Some of the seedlings were destroyed. I think I managed to rescue some others.

There is, apparently, a solution: orange peel. The cats can’t stand the smell.

Does that sound like an old wives’ tale? Advice that somehow has been passed down generations as fact but has a dubious success rate?

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Parallels between football’s ESL and climate crisis

A post about football might not be the most obvious fit for an environmental blog. But bear with, there are parallels to be drawn. This week, we have had Earth Day, an annual event used by new United States President Joe Biden to try to set the climate agenda he promised in his election campaign.

But in football we also had “What on earth?!” day, when six clubs from the Premier League announced their involvement in a European Super League (ESL) project. A closed door one, just for the elite.

It sparked protests from fans. Socially distanced? Perhaps. But respectful nonetheless. No riot police needed. These were non violent, in-person protests demonstrating outrage at the idea. A notion fostered by money-focused owners without even consultation of their football managers or teams, perhaps not wholly even their boards of directors. Although a report today suggests the media teams were briefed a week ago.

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Non-toxic pet waste

Ask election hopefuls to sort pet waste discrepancy

What are you going to ask your candidates when they come knocking on your door ahead of the May 6 local elections?

A reduction in taxes to help UK residents get back on their feet after Covid? That’s national level politics. There must be an abundance of issues that Reigate and Banstead borough, or Surrey County, councillors could affect, from elderly and social care to education and rubbish.

It might seem well down the list for many people. But I was glad to see someone else, via Twitter, have a moan that Reigate and Banstead Borough Council do not collect organic pet waste.

On the “no thank you” list for the brown garden waste bin, Reigate and Banstead lists “animal or pet bedding”. The reason is that they do not want cat or dog waste, because it is toxic. Witness when you have to remove stray feline excrement from the vegetable patch!

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A seagull could be affected by wind turbines

New answer to wind farm blades: Skybrators

Does it ever seem that every time mankind invents a solution to tackle a problem within the climate change sphere, the solution creates another problem?

Electric vehicles, for example, might not need removal of carbon emissions for petrol. But carbon emissions are, nonetheless, created, mostly by the process of making the vehicles. And of course they need batteries and for that we still need to mine the earth. The full solution is to use public transport, of course.

Likewise, while solar panels mean we don’t have to burn fossil fuels for heating, their manufacture still requires metals and the batteries to store energy require us to mine the earth. We are working through a series of “least worst” options.

These thoughts came to mind when I read about Skybrators – the reinvented wind turbine. A company in Spain, Vortex Bladeless, has invented the bladeless version, solving various complaints about wind turbines.

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Five ways to lead a more sustainable life

Many institutions have been actively campaigning for a more sustainable world and tackling climate change for years.

This year, A Rocha UK celebrates 20 years of campaigning on conservation. It began as a local Christian conservation project in Southall, West London. Now, it runs an eco-church scheme which gives out bronze, silver and gold standards to churches that can demonstrate various levels of protecting and restoring nature on land they manage. This inspires organisations to take climate protecting action.

Another group, CDP – initially named the Carbon Disclosure Project – is celebrating 20 years, too. It urges investors, companies, cities, regions and states to disclose their carbon footprint, as a way of inspiring change.

Dozens of campaigns have formed in recent years to ask Governments, regional and local, to think about changing their ways. Pressure from the first Extinction Rebellion protests led to the UK Government declaring a climate emergency. Nearly 70% of UK local councils have declared one.

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Investment graph

Surrey’s £100m fossil fuel pot shames climate stance

When Kent County Council tried to withdraw a hefty £250million investment in a Neil Woodford fund in mid-2019, it might well have triggered the collapse of the star investment manager’s career.

The fund’s value had fallen from a peak of £8.5bn to about £2.5bn and the council wanted to put the money into something more secure.

Their actions demonstrated the relevant committee’s sense of responsibility towards its investors – namely taxpayers. Like many investors at that time, they were keeping a dutiful eye on the market. They had decided that a fund in which a series of gambles by the fund manager had gone the wrong way. They wanted out.

The investment funds run by Woodford was suspended shortly afterwards and has now folded. Millions of investors, including Kent County Council, lost a huge percentage of their money.

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Leaves and guinea pig waste

Plucked parsnips prompt plan to improve soil

I’ve never really bothered about the leaves flailing around my garden in winter. I leave them to settle and lie on the grass and flowerbeds. They disappear by mid-spring. Or summer at the latest.

This year, however, I decided to take advantage of a bright day and put them to good use. The prompt was parsnips.

Last weekend, after the snow had melted, I dug up some of the parsnips I had planted last May. We had tried a couple before Christmas – after a ‘first frost’, as advised by many people – but they tasted very floral. Which was weird. It was also pretty small, and had bunched itself into a sphere, rather than a cone shape.

The most recent crop were also large and bulbous at the top, but retained oddities in shape. They had several long tentacles, like Hollywood might imagine an alien, but not one, uniform cone-shaped tail.

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Former gasholder site Earlswood is ripe for solar conversion

Could Redhill talk climate talk with a gas to solar tale?

Take a peek over a wall in a forgotten, derelict corner of Earlswood and you’ll see a muddy plot of land, acting as a flood plain at present, it seems. But could it be ripe for converting to a renewable energy project?

There is no sign that this abandoned pocket of this Redhill suburb was once home to a towering, cylindrical gasholder structure.

Warnings about the plot being monitored by CCTV adorn one end of this land. Nestling near a popular convenience store and surrounded by houses on pretty much all sides, its fate seems inevitable.

Housing. Yet more dwellings to add to the population, traffic to add to the busy Hooley Lane which, at the best of times, is reduced to single lane traffic because cars park on one side. Better that this site – a former industrial area – was used for more homes than, say, further large open space or greenbelt land, yes?

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A solar panel farm

Put a green thorn in fossil site planning laws

“I take your point,” Alok Sharma replied, when asked if the approval of a new coal mine was “an embarrassment” ahead of the UK hosting the COP26 Climate Summit.

The questions to Mr Sharma, President of the UK-hosted COP26 in Glasgow in November, came from the Commons business select committee.

Even Kwasi Kwarteng, the Business Secretary, told the committee there was a “slight tension” between Cumbria County Council approving the mine and national efforts to clean up – or green up – the economy.

Ministers could have reversed the decision by “calling in” the plans. But they declined to do so, saying that the coal was required for creating the heat to make steel. Otherwise coal would have to be imported, the applicant and council agreed. This would increase carbon emissions, given the travel to reach the UK.

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